Immunity ‘Resistant’ To Australian Cup Hoodoo

AUSTRALIAN Cup runner-up Black Opium couldn’t break Jason Thompson’s Cup hoodoo, but the trainer is optimistic her half-sister Immunity can.

Gerard Guthrie

23 February 2022

SUPERSTAR 2019 Group 1 TAB Australian Cup runner-up Black Opium couldn’t break Jason Thompson’s Cup hoodoo, but the champion Pearcedale trainer is optimistic her half-sister Immunity can go one-better on Saturday night.

Thompson boasts multiple victories in greyhound racing’s other three ‘majors’ – the Melbourne Cup, Golden Easter Egg and Topgun – however Australian Cup glory has proven strangely elusive.

“Some races you have plenty of luck in, but it just hasn’t worked out in the Australian Cup,” Thompson said.

“It’s one of those races every trainer wants to compete in and to be lucky enough to win it one day would be great. Hopefully it’s Saturday!”

Thompson’s most recent Australian Cup finalist, Black Opium, trained by wife Seona, ran second to Andrea Dailly’s Dyna Patty, and with four finalists, ‘Team Dailly’ once again shapes as a major hurdle.

However, after qualifying a remarkable five finalists himself in 2016, Thompson knows better than most numbers are no guarantee of success. 

Immunity (December ’18 KC And All x Captivating), winner of 20 of her 34 starts, continued her impressive return from a seasonal spell in last weekend’s Cup heats.

Taking advantage of Box 1, she led all-the-way in 29.74sec, a new PB at The Meadows, where she’s won four from six, and the second quickest qualifying performance.

“Her heat run was really good, considering where she’s at,” Thompson said. 

“She had a good draw, used it to perfection and she’ll take benefit from the run.

“She’s had four runs back – two at Ballarat and two at The Meadows – after having eight or nine weeks off, so there could still be a bit of improvement in her.

“She’s come on season twice, which has kept her out of some of the races she could’ve been in. The only other Group race she’s has been in was the (G2) Laurels (December 2020).

FIELDS AND FORM THE MEADOWS SATURDAY NIGHT

“But you can’t worry about what hasn’t happened and age-wise, she’s probably at her prime now.”

Despite moving to Box 5 for the Cup final, Immunity is well-fancied at $5 with TAB and Thompson is bullish about her prospects.

“I like her,” he said.

“Her record shows she’s a winner, she goes good at The Meadows, and she can run the time that’s needed to win the race.

“In saying that, from the draw, she’s going to have to do everything right, but she’s very capable of doing that.

“I’d rather draw five, than six, seven or eight. 

“If we picked our box, I would’ve picked one, but it’s not essential for her. You only have to look at her record from wide draws; she’s unbeaten from Box 8 (5 from 5). She’ll run dead straight from any draw.” 

Bred and raced by cousins Serge and Bill Buccilli in their boutique See The Dream Syndicate, Immunity has a G1 pedigree.

Black Opium went on to win the Sapphire Crown and Brisbane Cup, after seconds in the Australian, Brisbane and Melbourne Cups, while litter brother Equalizer won last year’s Brisbane Cup.

“Immunity has similar ability to Black Opium,” Thompson said.

“Black Opium was a better beginner and had a little bit more early speed, but Immunity is stronger. The times they can run are pretty much identical.”